Visiting Haleakala

Today I would like to show you a series of landscape pictures, taken on the Haleakala volcano in Maui, Hawaii. Florian, one of my best friends, recently moved from Vienna to Maui. I visited him for the first time in February 2015 to attend his wedding and now again over the New Year 2015/16. Already on the first trip I covered the island extensively with my camera, so there was actually not much left to photograph on the second trip – except the volcano, which I completely missed the first time around.

My friend Florian, on one of the peaks on the Haleakalā plateau.

Haleakala is, to quote Wikipedia, “a massive shield volcano that forms more than 75% of the Hawaiian Island of Maui”. It rises 3,055 meters above sea-level, which, since you actually do start at the sea-level, makes for a steep ascent with your car. Driving up, you feel like passing through most of the climatic zones this planet has to offer, from the seaside to lush forests, dryer woodlands and finally the barren, desert-like top. Temperatures drop from 30 degrees at the bottom to zero to ten degrees on the top in the mornings, when the sun is still low, however also on the top they then rise a bit further during the day.

The large plateau on top of the volcano is often called a crater but is not one, the actual craters are a number of volcanic cones scattered over that larger plateau, and some of them can be seen on the photo above. Haleakala has last erupted in the 17th century and is still considered active, with the inhabited areas on its slope rated as hazard zones 3 to 4, on a scale from 1 (highest) to 9. However there are no spectacular open lava flows as on the Kilauea volcano on the Hawaiian Big Island.

The most popular viewpoints for the famous sunrise can be easily accessed by car and a short walk, but to see more of the impressive landscape, a longer hike was in order. Our route took as about 19 kilometers through the plateau, with time for breaks and photos nearly seven hours passed until we were back to the road. Most of the time our group of four was alone, only two or three times we met other small groups of hikers. Even when shooting landscapes, I often try to include people in my photos to add perspective and interest.

Most of the area is covered in grey, volcanic soil or sand and scattered rocks, with very few, sporadic plants, making it look like one would image Moon or Mars. However, when approaching the northern edge, which seems to get more rainfall, more and more vegetation takes hold and the landscape turns into grass and bush lands.

For me, the experience on Haleakala was unique, the landscape unlike anything I have seen before and the whole hike one of the most memorable things I did in my life. The last place I remember having such an otherworldly feeling is the Phraya Nakhon cave in Thailand. I hope you like and enjoy the photos and that maybe this article will inspire one or another Maui visitor to venture beyond the beaches to visit this fantastic place.

All the best, Robert

PS: You can find the full album with photos from Haleakala here, and more photos from Maui here.